Bonnyvale Environmental Education Centre

Parent Express, June 2013: Second Nature

Nature Detectives

Now is a time of growth and change as new life fills the natural world.  

There is a bounty of marvels for the young naturalist to discover, observe, wonder and investigate. As mentors of young naturalists we can encourage nature detective skills.

Look near and far, high and low. Look with tunnel vision at specific objects. Look with wide vision taking in everything around you. What colors, textures, shapes, and patterns do you see?  

Listen near and far. Close your eyes and listen to the different sounds and tones of nature. Cup your hands behind your ears to enhance what you can hear. Where is a sound coming from? Can you find the source of a sound?

Touch everything. Close your eyes and pay attention to the details of what you can feel with your hands. Lie on the ground and use your whole body to feel the earth.

Taste and smell go together. Savor and taste the air. Can you find where a smell is coming from?

Nature exploration and discovery involves using and expanding all of our senses, one at a time, and together.  

During the spring many critters have been busy finding mates and building shelters for their young. Now is the time of birth, growing and transforming.  

Explore your own backyard or nearby park. Move slowly and quietly with all your senses alert. Find something to watch transform and visit your discovery daily if you can.  

Can you find a spittlebug? A spittlebug nymph lives inside those bubbles of froth on plant stems. All those bubbles provide shelter for the nymph as it feeds on the plant’s sap. Maybe you’ll witness a nymph shed its skin as it transforms into a winged adult, also called a froghopper.

Can you find a pool of water? Many insects and amphibians begin their life in the water before they undergo an amazing transformation into adults living in the air or on land.  

Are there any eggs to watch hatch? Are there tadpoles to keep an eye on as they grow their legs and lose their gills? Are there any aquatic insects to observe and identify?  

Dragonfly nymphs are predators of this water world, feeding on tadpoles and other aquatic insects. To become predators of the air they climb up a blade of vegetation and shed their skin, emerging with wings. Can you find a skin shed by a dragonfly nymph?  

Looking high and low and listening near and far, can you find any nesting birds? Birds can nest on the ground, on high platforms, in tree cavities, and build nest cups in branches.  

What materials do they gather to build their nests? Without disturbing the parents, can you sneak a peek at how many eggs are laid? How many days go by till you hear peeping from within? What do the parents feed their young? Maybe you’ll observe a fledgling’s first flight.

Gather your detective tools: notebook, pencil, binoculars, magnifying lens, and field guides. Step outdoors and embark on your nature adventures!

A fun book about bird watching: Mouse and Mole: Fine Feathered Friends by Wong Herbert Yee.

Join us this summer at BEEC’s Nature Explorers Summer Camp, June 24th to August 16th for children age 4 to 14.  For more information, visit www.beec.org or call 802-257-5785.